ALROSA unearths a yellow 17.4 ct diamond at its new Verkhne-Munskoye deposit

ALROSA has recovered a 17.44-carat diamond at the Verkhne-Munskoye deposit for the first time since the beginning of its operations.

21 february 2020

Star Diamond provides update regarding option to JV with Rio Tinto Exploration Canada Inc.

Star Diamond Corporation announced that, following a review conducted by Star Diamond’s special committee with assistance from the special committee’s independent legal counsel, Star Diamond has notified Rio Tinto Exploration Canada Inc. (RTEC)...

21 february 2020

Sergey Eroshkin appointed new CEO of Bourevestnik

Sergey Eroshkin will become the new CEO of the Bourevestnik Innovation Center, ALROSA subsidiary, effective from February 15, 2020.

21 february 2020

Star Rays aspires to become India’s first carbon-neutral diamond company

Indian diamond manufacturer Star Rays may be the first India’s first carbon-neutral diamond company in the country, because of its commitment to sustainable business practices.

21 february 2020

Young Indians embrace platinum as a symbol of modern love and self-expression

While traditionally a market for gold jewellery, India has developed a strong appetite for platinum over the past decade.

21 february 2020

RJC membership and certification are a means to credibly demonstrate responsible environmental, social and ethical performance – Michael Rae, RJC’s CEO

16 september 2013

Today, a company's ability to demonstrate social responsibility of its business is needed as much as its financial statements verified by auditors. That's more than a matter of prestige and fair name: buyers today are more and more interested in the origin of their jewelry, while banks, insurance companies and the government are turning transparency and conflict-free supply into one of the mandatory requirements. The Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), covering all parts of the jewellery supply chain from mine to store, is developing standards and providing certification, which confirms the compliance of companies with social, environmental and ethical standards. RJC, established in 2005 with the participation of major jewellery companies and associations, including Rio Tinto, Tiffany & Co, Zale Corporation, Cartier and BHP Billiton, has more than 450 member companies. Michael Rae, its Chief Executive Officer, tells about the activities and plans pursued by the Council in an interview to Olga Patseva, correspondent of Rough&Polished.

What is the RJC’s primary concern these days?

The RJC is focused on providing its Members with the capacity to demonstrate responsible environmental, social and ethical performance, through independent third-party certification against the RJC's Code of Practices (CoP). The RJC also offers a Chain-of-Custody standard, applicable to gold and platinum group metals, to assist Members seeking to utilise chain-of-custody as a voluntary, complementary element to the RJC Member Certification process. This year the RJC is concluding the first formal review of the Code of Practices, honouring the commitment the RJC Board made at the time of the CoP’s initial publication in 2009. The objectives of the Review are to update the Code of Practices, as well as its supporting documents and training, so as to incorporate the lessons learned from the experiences of its Members and Auditors during the first three years of implementation and submissions made during three extensive public consultation periods. The formal review is also allowing RJC to incorporate relevant new standards and policy developments that have been developed over the past three years.

Are there any countries or regions that the RJC places special emphasis on, and why?

The RJC is an international trade association, so we actively seek to expand our membership in all countries and regions of the world. That said, it is fair to say that European and North American businesses make up a large proportion of our current membership, so we are keen to increase the number of Members from Asia and India.

How do India and Asia respond to the RJC’s efforts to intensify its engagement in these countries? What steps are you taking in this direction?

RJC's membership numbers in India and Asia are growing steadily. These companies, like those RJC Members from elsewhere in the world, see the value of RJC membership as a means to credibly demonstrate responsible environmental, social and ethical performance to their business partners - suppliers and customers - and other stakeholders.

The current formal review of the Code of Practices is expressly engaged with RJC's Asian and Indian Members to ensure the continuing appropriateness of RJC's standards and processes.

What is your take on the conflict minerals legislation (Section 1502 of the Dodd Frank Act) that requires companies to prove that gold and key minerals from Congo do not fuel conflict?

The RJC does not have a position on the Section 1502 of the Dodd Frank Act, other than to observe that it is a requirement of the RJC Code of Practices that RJC Members conform to all applicable laws.

Does the RJC participate in the Kimberley Process? Do you require that your members also comply with the KP requirements in your certification standards?

RJC participation in the Kimberley Process is via its membership of the World Diamond Council.

The RJC Code of Practices requires that Members:

- Not knowingly buy or sell Conflict Diamonds or assist others to do so.

- Apply the controls established in Kimberley Process Certification Scheme for the import and export of rough diamonds. This includes independent audits.

- Have systems in place so that all invoices for diamonds contain the World Diamond Council Warranty Statement.

- Inform all Employees that buy or sell Diamonds about government restrictions, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and World Diamond Council Warranty Statement.

Can you tell us about your work with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)?

RJC has worked closely with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on the development of Due Diligence Guidance for the Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas, particularly the Supplement on Gold. More information about the OECD’s work on this area can be found on their website: http://www.oecd.org/fr/daf/inv/mne/mining.htm.

RJC is a member of the Multi-stakeholder Steering Group (MSG) established for the Guidance in 2013, following involvement in the Interim Governance Group during 2012.

Cross-recognition agreements to support the OECD Guidance under the RJC Chain-of-Custody Standard have been developed with related programs and initiatives, including the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA), the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative (EICC-GeSI), the World Gold Council and the Fairtrade-Fairmined Producer Standards.

Download a PDF Overview of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance and Supplement on Gold (June 2012).

In May, an international coalition of trade unions and environmental groups (Earthworks, Mining Watch Canada, United Steelworkers etc.) released a report titled “More Shine Than Substance” that criticizes the RJC Certification. In your opinion, was it fair and constructive criticism? How did you respond to the criticism?

In response, the RJC made the following statements:

- The RJC Standards Committee is a multi-stakeholder body, that includes civil society representatives with policy and implementation experience in human rights, development, labour and environmental issues.

- RJC is a full member of the ISEAL Alliance, a global association for sustainability standards, and RJC is a member of the OECD Multi-Stakeholder Steering Group for the Due Diligence Guidance.

- RJC certifies companies, rather than individual facilities to encourage broader uptake of the RJC Code of Practices across all relevant facilities.

- The RJC Code of Practices, launched in 2009, is currently undergoing its first review which includes proposed new standards, aligned with international standards wherever possible, for mercury, Free Prior Informed Consent, sourcing from conflict-affected areas, and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

- The RJC Chain-of-Custody standard is recognised by the OECD as an important industry initiative that helps to promote uptake and implementation of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance.

- The RJC carries out accreditation of independent third party auditors based on published criteria, aligned with ISO standards on auditor quality and competence (ISO 17021). An independent expert in auditor accreditation is involved in the review process for each audit firm, to ensure impartiality and correct procedures are followed. The accreditation process is supported by training on the RJC’s standards and certification process.

RJC refutes the allegation that RJC's standards development does not take a multi-stakeholder approach. In fact, the RJC Standards Committee is a multi-stakeholder body, that includes civil society representatives with policy and implementation experience in human rights, development, labour and environmental issues. RJC’s standards development procedures require consensus among the Standards Committee, and the Committee’s recommendations are approved by the Board on the basis of the process followed, not the resulting content of the Standard. RJC’s governance and procedures were reviewed by ISEAL for conformance with the Standard-Setting Code as a pre-requisite for RJC being admitted to Full Membership of ISEAL.

More information about RJC’s Standards Committee and standards development procedures can be found at: http://www.responsiblejewellery.com/standards-development/

According to ISEAL, through the process of coming into compliance with the ISEAL Standard-Setting Code, RJC implemented a number of improvements to their standards development process. What were the most significant improvements that you made?

ISEAL recommended that RJC should merge its existing multi-stakeholder Consultative Panel with the RJC Standards Committee, which, to that point, had a membership of RJC Commercial and Trade Association Members. The restructured RJC Standards Committee now has members from across the jewellery supply chain, together with leading human rights and environmental NGOs, auditors and other external experts.

The RJC Standards Committee comprises up to 14 elected RJC Member representatives, two from each Member Forum, and up to 12 external participants from NGOs, related standards organisations and other experts. We are grateful for the time and valuable contributions of all Standards Committee participants.

The number of your members increased by 20% over the last year. What do you think was the main reason for that?

The growth in the RJC’s membership stems from the recognition by increasing numbers of companies in the international jewellery supply chain of the value of RJC membership and certification as a means to credibly demonstrate responsible environmental, social and ethical performance to their business partners and other stakeholders, e.g. customers, regulators, financial institutions, insurers, local communities and NGOs.

What are your plans for the second half of 2013?

RJC will be involved in presentations and other activities at the IJL show in London and the Hong Kong show in September. The RJC Standards Committee will be focused on concluding the formal review of the RJC Code of Practices and its supporting documents and training, with work planned to conclude in November. Throughout the year, RJC provides training and guidance to its growing membership and to its accredited auditors. Further information on the RJC and its activities can be found on our website: http://www.responsiblejewellery.com.

Olga Patseva, Editor in Chief of the American Bureau, Rough&Polished